Ahhh Mauritius. The east-African island country to the left of Madagascar is well known for its picture-perfect sunsets, white sandy beaches and jungle-like adventures. But the island is more than just a day dream, with many cultural and differs travel experiences on offer. Having visited the island twice (last being 3 months before lockdown), here are unique experiences that surprised me on the island of Mauritius:
1. There Are No Seagulls
I know…this seems like a lie, but I saw no “classic” seagulls while in Mauritius. Each day I’d look up when I’d expect to see a gull to only be met with giant bats! Quite frankly, I find this awesome! But it also made me realise that there was a distinct lack of seagulls for a sea-side location. While there are white birds, for some reason, there simply aren’t any seagulls in Mauritius. 🤷
2. Many Houses Are Incomplete – On Purpose
While in transit between various hotels and activities, I came to notice that it was easy to look into the homes lining the streets. Dogs walking up charcoal speckled stairwells into windowless rooms – often with bright laundry hanging across the “lounge”. Why were so many homes incomplete?
Upon enquiring about this, I came to learn that only homes that are completed are required to pay tax. By keeping a home incomplete, residents are able to avoid paying taxes. And with weather as warm as Mauritius, it’s easy to partially live without doors, roofs and windows.
3. Everyone Speaks French
This may not seem unusual, however, many countries post colonialism adapt their inherited language to make a more colloquial version. For example, Afrikaans in South Africa is adapted from Dutch. It is quite similar but not quite. This is not the case in Mauritius here most people are fluent in French with Creole or English as their third language.
4. Not All Fruits Are Made Equal
Three surprising fruit experiences:
- The bananas are really small! Food modification is popular around the world, but it was surprising to see such small bananas considering they are grown in Mauritius.
- There are yellow granadillas in Mauritius! What’s a granadilla? A passion fruit! This was another strange discovery – granadilla is apparently only well known in South Africa. The rest of the world calls them passion fruits (we do too, but also granadillas!).
- Not all coconuts are made equally. Some can be eaten or the coconut water drunk, others not. We had Pina Coladas in a coconut on the private beach in the Four Seasons and it was DIVINE! But don’t expect, if you buy a coconut off the streets, to necessarily have the same experience.
5. There Aren’t Any Beggars
This may be normal for residents of Europe, but in Africa it’s commonplace to have many homeless people living on the streets asking for assistance in the form of food, clothing, money or employment.
I noticed, however, that although the residents of Mauritius lived in half complete houses, fished for their food or grew their own vegetables, I didn’t see anyone begging or living as homeless people in the streets.
People may be seen as “poor” by European standards, but locals live a beautiful, relaxed island lifestyle (often with not much) with begging not being commonplace on the small island.
6. They Make Litchi Wine
This was the most unusual and delicious experience at the Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort in the south of Mauritius where they served Takamaka litchi wine. It tastes like a mature rosé – sweet, but not sickly and is made from litchees, grown on the island, not grapes!
7. Dog City
Mauritius is home to dozens of stray dogs. Generally, they hang around the towns, scratching their necks and sleeping on the beach. I saw far fewer cats, which I happened to mention to the hotel concierge and as cats would have it, one strolled past at that exact moment. Apparently, there are stray cats on the island, but they tend to be much smaller than in other countries.
8. Beef is Rare and Unusual
Before I visited Mauritius I was warned that the McDonald’s isn’t delicious because many of the residents of the island are Hindu, therefore, beef is not a part of their daily diet. On this trip, I ate some beef, but often found it to taste a bit unusual – quite goat-like. So if you’re in Mauritius and a bit fussy about your meat, possibly opt-in for the pork, chicken or seafood option.
Keep these quirks in mind for your next trip to Mauritius so you can enjoy the unique and special characteristics of the island.
Thank you to Mauritian Tourism who had myself and 29 other content creators from around the globe on their iAmbassador #MyMauritius media trip. It was an absolute pleasure to visit paradise.